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Lions Club of Clarence – Environmental’s volunteers spent last Saturday morning planting trees and shrubs to regenerate a fire ground, which the owner has dedicated as a wildlife sanctuary. Image: contributed

Lions complete ‘first’ environmental project

Geoff Helisma

Members of the ‘Lions Club of Clarence – Environmental’ spent last Sunday planting 250 trees and shrubs on a Shark Creek property that was devastated by a bushfire in September and October 2019.

“It’s the first Lions club that is totally focused on threatened flora and fauna in Australia,” says the club’s treasurer and membership officer, Barbara Linley.

The club’s mission statement: “To highlight the importance of biodiversity in the Clarence and work towards protecting and preserving threatened species.

“The overall goal is to halt the decline and help preserve threatened flora brand fauna in the Clarence.”

Landowner Lola Topsom-Southwood said she regards herself as the “caretaker” of the property, which she has dedicated to “preserving wildlife”.

“It was a marvellous day,” she said; “a lovely, diverse bunch of people who all want the same thing, to do some conservation work and look after our wildlife.

“Before farming there were a lot more rainforest pockets in the Shark Creek area.

“A massive thank-you to all who came out; it is greatly appreciated.”

The 78 acre property is dedicated to the https://www.wildlifelandtrust.org.au/, which aims to “preserve and protect our vital native habitats and the animals that depend on them, in a network of sanctuaries both throughout the country and internationally”.

Ms Linley said that 90 per cent of the land “was burnt, and it is 80 per cent wetlands”.

“The endangered coastal emu, phascogale, brolga and an amazing amount of birdlife visit the property,” she said.

“Lola gave a brief overview to the volunteers; then Fig Forest, a local ecologist, talked about the trees selected and how to plant them – ‘be careful of roots’ – Fig likes to call it root planting, not tree planting.

“Fig had organised what trees and shrubs were needed for this particular site, [because] it is important to select the right species.

“The planting took place in an area where there was no regeneration after the fires.

“These trees and shrubs were supplied by Lee Scarlett and the Townsend community nursery; Fig commented on how healthy they were.

“All up, we planted, watered and mulched 250 trees and shrubs.

“Everyone pitched in and helped and, by 12 o’clock, we were ready to sit in the shade and have lunch.”

Ms Linley, who aims to ensure people enjoy themselves during and after their labours, said people had commented, saying things like they’d “enjoyed planting, seeing a new area, meeting new people and helping Lola” achieve her goal.

“A woman rang and said it was a fantastic morning,” she said.

“It’s great to do good, physical work with a good bunch of people – and when the heavens opened, it was a perfect end to a day’s planting.”

The Lions environmental group is working on other projects, too, such as “installing nesting boxes in schools, surveying the coastal emus on Brooms Head Road (with the aim to better protect them) and an initiative called KoalaSmart”.

“The planting is just one of a number of projects the Lions Club of Clarence – Environmental is pursuing,” Ms Linley said.

People who would like to join the Lions environmental group can call Barbara Linley on 0438 897 147.

“If people join before Christmas, a part of their membership fee will be waived,” she said.